solar farm (copy)

A solar garden will be built outside of Waseca for the WIS building to power from using a few rows of panels. Pictured here, the solar garden currently located in Waseca County and Woodville Township off of county road 5. (File photo)

WASECA — Waseca School Board approved a 15-year contract with US Solar to begin in January 2020.

The US Solar resolution passed on a 4-to-2 vote with Edita Mansfield and Charlie Priebe as the nays.

US Solar will be installing a solar garden outside of Waseca near Hartland that will power the Waseca Intermediate School because it is the only district building on an Excel Energy meter at this time.

The garden is not directly connected to the intermediate school, it just gives power. In the garden WIS will have an allocated amount of rows and however much electricity of that garden is created then the school will be credited for.

“We’re always looking for ways to save money from big to little and for us it’s just a matter of if we can save $8,000 on our power bill why wouldn’t we do that…,” Waseca School District Superintendent Tom Lee said.

According to the US Solar website, it is a provider of community solar solutions to businesses and public entities across Minnesota. Through Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community program, US Solar has over 100 Megawatts of Solar Gardens in operation or development.

For every kilowatt hour of energy production associated with the WIS portion of the solar garden, the school will get a bill credit. The school has a set sunscription rate of 735,607 kilowatt hours and if more energy is produced than needed Excel will credit the bill.

The fixed difference between the Bill Credit Rate and your Subscription Rate is your savings. Rates are set, so you know the savings per kWh in advance.

The Excel Energy Solar Rewards Community program is an incentivized program. Monthly payments are made to the owner of the solar system in exchange for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for the energy produced by the solar system.

The board passed the contract with some discussion prior to the final vote.

“What is all in this agreement, I’m not real excited about solar energy,” Priebe said.

There were concerns of start up cost, warranty and being locked into a contract for 25 years.

A US Solar representative was present on the night of Oct. 24 during the school board meeting to answer questions.

It was stated in the meeting that there are no start-up costs for the school district and that it is a program for savings.

In previous meetings about the US Solar garden there were concerns about agreeing to a 25-year contract because the board felt a lot could change in that amount of time. US Solar was willing to work with the board and allows for an out at 10 or 15 years and the district can end the contract sooner only having to pay back the previous years savings.

Another perk of the program is a 25-year warranty on the panels that will be replaced if they are not producing the amount of energy they should be.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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